How getting our product knocked off helped us make it better
We had just gotten the Readydesk standing desk converter listed on Amazon, the world’s largest store. We were stoked. Soon after, however, we discovered our stand up desk converter had a doppleganger—a clone using the same materials, design, sales copy, price point and photography angles as us.
Through some Internet detective work, and combing of our sales records, we determined the person manufacturing this competing product had actually bought a Readydesk seven months earlier.
We were mad as hell.
All the time testing prototypes, the money spent getting to this point, years of difficult lessons, and some dude uses your hard work for a short cut. It sucked and didn’t seem fair. Revenge was the only option we were entertaining at that very moment.
There’s a haze that initially forms in your brain when you feel slighted. It’s a fine red mist of anger and disbelief. When Readydesk got swiped, it felt personal. We contacted our patent lawyer—an expensive battle to wage (especially with an overseas infringer). We also dreamed of sabotaging this joker's Amazon page (no idea how we would do that), and debated emailing cryptic messages that would surely have him feeling like a real turd.
But after some time passed, something inside our tiny hearts changed.
We cooled off. We started seeing this event as a learning opportunity. Let's turn the tables and try to see what the enemy was doing. This guy had “designed” his own standing desk and set up an e-commerce business in the few months since buying his Readydesk. How did he do it? What was he doing differently from us?
We ordered the offending product for ourselves, dissecting its packaging and exact materials. We researched the distribution model, and noted subtle tweaks he had made to our design.
It helped us. It encouraged us. Our mindset went from burying this guy with a shovel to burying this guy the free-market way: running a better business with a better idea than he could ever muster.
Ethically, we were already far ahead of this human barnacle. But from a business knowledge standpoint, he knew what he was doing. Our sleuthing revealed this douchenozzle’s modus operandi was skimming Kickstarter, taking someone else’s idea and bringing it to market under a different brand name.
On our end, we’re still following the kaizen approach: continuous improvements to our self-built system. We’re making final adjustments to a newly redesigned Readydesk (we can’t wait to show it to you). We’ve cut down on our packaging materials while simultaneously improving the aesthetic and functionality. Plus, we’ve simplified our shipping so that we can spend more time on customer service and less time printing labels and calling FedEx.
After this speed bump, the moral of the story seems to be: the only concern you should have for competition is for figuring how much better you need to be. Guess we actually should thank that lazy jerk for what he did.